No longer homeless

Yesterday I was able to remove “homeless” from the list of words I use to describe myself. 

Needless to say, I’m excited, for a multitude of reasons, not just because I’ll be living back in Richmond with someone I love, but also because this is really my first apartment.  Sure, I spent sophomore year in a big house with three roommates on Main Street, but I was stuck at Ft. Meade throughout the whole house selection and lease signing ordeal.  And yes, I did live in a lovely row house on 26th Street with my ex, but even that was owned by my ex’s father and, let’s face it, even though I paid rent and had a lease, it still wasn’t real world for me. 

 But now, it is.  I applied for an apartment, had good enough credit to get it and yesterday, I signed my first real lease.  I like to think of this as a step toward feeling like an adult, and, more than that, toward living my life the way I want to live my life. 

We get the keys on Thursday and I CANNOT wait to move in and make it a home.  There is so much stuff I’ve been dreaming of getting for months now and thankfully, the time has finally come when I actually can go couch, bed, dinnerware and decor shopping and let’s face it – that’s a really, really good thing, especially because that girl inside of me who loves to shop was kept away from the thing she loves for far, far too long during the deployment. 

In other news, I’m still adjusting, still trying to get used to being a civilian again.  I think there’s a process that I have to go through and I’m definitely going through it.  Some things are weird and I’m still savoring foods that I didn’t get for 18 months.  I’m glad I have Andrew to talk to about all this stuff.  I think it’s good that we’re going through it together, riding the highs and the lows and discussing the issues that we encounter.  It helps.  I understand why they kept telling us at Ft. Dix to stay in touch with each other because in all honestly, most people don’t get it and it is really, really important to have at least one person to talk to about the whole thing who shared the experience with you.  That said, I think it’s also important to have people outside of the military to talk to because duh!  They can help you learn how to be a civilian again. 

Lastly, thanks for all of your support – you guys rock.  I know I keep saying that, but it means so much to me to get comments and emails from you and hear your take on things and your words of encourangement.  Again, thank you. 

Back in US of A (but not home)

I made it across the ocean on Monday – which will from here on out be known as the 30 hour day. If you don’t think that’s possible you should know that you’re wrong because when you fly across the Atlantic from Kosovo, you gain six hours. For the record, days should not be 30 hours long. That’s just ridiculous.

We started the process of leaving at 5 AM on Monday in Kosovo. We didn’t get to Fort Dix, New Jersey until about 11 PM on Monday, which, according to my internal clock was actually 5 AM because my internal clock was still set on Kosovo time. We didn’t get to sleep until about 2 AM (8 AM Kosovo time), and then had to be up and ready for briefings around 7 AM on Tuesday. Needless to say, I’m pretty exhausted.

I should be here in New Jersey going through the demobilization process until at least Friday. I’d like to get out of here sooner, but we’ll see how it goes (that means you should keep your fingers crossed for me to get out of here on Friday).

I wrote about leaving Kosovo while I was on the plane flying over Europe. I’m going to post that soon, just because it captures what I felt as our bus left Bondsteel for the last time. It was weird. It was bittersweet. I wish I had better words to describe it, to capture what it felt like, but I don’t.

So yeah, I’m in the USA!

Also, thank you all for the comments you left – they were awesome. You guys have been great through this whole thing and I want to thank you so much for your support – you have no idea how much it means to me.

The land of the round doorknobs

So that big event that I helped plan and organize? It was Friday (click here to read how it went).  It’s over.  Done.  Finished.  The best part – I’m stress-free right now, spending one last Sunday in Kosovo with absolutely nothing to do.

My stuff is, for the most part, packed.  Yesterday was the Great Post Office Run of 2007, which included the mailing of not one or two, but five boxes.  I turned in my office badge yesterday as well and said one last farewell to the KFOR 9 people because really?  There is absolutely no reason for me to ever see my office again.

All that sadness that I felt when I wrote my last entry?  Yeah, it’s gone.  Well, most of it is.

So, how does it feel to be at the very, very end of an 18 month deployment?

It’s exciting, scary, a little sad, hard work on the nerves, exhausting, making me so freakin’ happy and cause for thoughtful remembrance.  It makes me want to sing John Denver and squeal for joy.

Goodbye Kosovo, it’s been fun, and hello USA, the land of the round doorknobs, I can’t wait to see you!

I’ll try to post something once I get back to the States, but who knows what internet access will be like at the demobilization site, so don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for a few days.

No really, I don't work here anymore

Today was my last day of work as the SGS NCOIC for MNTF(E), KFOR 8.

Yes, that’s wonderful, but still, at 5 pm today I almost cried. It was went I started writing my out of office message. Writing it made it real.

My final act as the SGS NCOIC for KFOR 8 was to send out the final Transfer of Authority (TOA) attendee list. It’s as done as it’s ever going to be, as it should be seeing as TOA is tomorrow, and it felt weird to send it out and know that I won’t be doing any other SGS things ever again. That list has been just about the only thing I’ve been working on for the last two weeks straight. It’s the reason I went to work each day, all day this week. It’s also why I’ve been stressed.

I’m not going to lie, as 4 PM approached, I got excited. Excited because my work here is done. Excited because I can say I’ve done my best and worked my ass off and achieved the high standard set by my KFOR 7 counterpart. Excited because it’s over. Excited because I (an Army of one or some shit like that) have managed to compile and update (hourly) a list of over 350 invitees to include their dates of birth, ID numbers and a whole pile of other information that we need on hand in order to allow them access to Camp Bondsteel. But then, as 5 approached, I got tears in my eyes and that little lump in my throat appeared.

I wasn’t expecting that. I knew this would be emotional, this leaving of my life, this transition into someone else who does something else. I knew my boss leaving would be hard, and it was, but leaving the office? Completing the job I came to do? Finishing the final task I’ve been dreading all year? The end of work? No. I didn’t think that would be hard.

Ah, the sweet, sweet memories

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fu-em4y4M4]

Our awesome Public Affairs Officer, MAJ Cotton Puryear, but together this video slide show. It starts at the beginning of the deployment, way back when we were saying goodbye to our families. I’m in there like five times. Can you find the Terra?